Can't "lesbians" belong to us all?

Residents of the island of Lesbos sue for use of the name.

By Sarah Hepola
May 1, 2008 10:45PM (UTC)
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Residents of the Greek island of Lesbos are going to court to fight a gay rights organization from using the word "lesbian." If successful (cha!), they plan to fight international use of the term. Later, for a finale, perhaps they can bang their heads on a brick wall.

Many a joke has been made about the overlap in names -- perhaps you went to middle school? -- but apparently, the Greeks are not laughing. They're downright steamed. According to a story in the BBC, "international dominance of the word in its sexual context violates the human rights of the islanders, and disgraces them around the world."


First of all, there is no disgrace in being a lesbian. At some colleges, in fact, there is disgrace in not being a lesbian. Second of all, what is this human rights violation? Frat boys are taking too many vacations there? Come on. There are many human rights violations around the world that we should be worried about. A few silly jokes about whether you're a lesbian does not rank among them. Suck it up.

Still, I can't help feeling a twinge of sympathy for Lesbos, just because its people seem so ridiculously upset about the issue. According to the BBC story, "the Greek government is so embarrassed by the term Lesbian that it has been forced to rename the island after its capital, Mytilini." Oh, Lesbos. Embrace it, already.

Sarah Hepola

Sarah Hepola is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, "Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget."

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